No Good Deed
Everyone deserves a second chance.
That's what we like to believe, anyway. Forgiveness is a huge part of the Christian faith. Rehabilitation is a cornerstone of the American judicial system. People make mistakes. All of us could use a little grace now and then.
"In my experience, you give a man a second chance, they usually rise to the occasion," says the penitentiary bus driver, shuttling Colin Evans to his parole hearing.
Five years earlier, Colin killed a man in a bar—voluntary manslaughter, they said. And while Colin initially felt that his imprisonment was a raw deal, he tells the board now that his time in the slammer helped him realize he truly was in the wrong. He never should've gotten as angry as he did, he says. "I should've been ashamed." And since he's been in prison, Colin's been a model citizen—going so far as creating a reading program for his fellow inmates. He's a changed man, he declares.
He deserves a second chance.
The board doesn't quite see it that way. Authorities believe he also killed five women, but there's never been enough evidence to convict him. One of the board members describes Colin as a malignant narcissist—intelligent, charismatic and unlikely to reform. And with that, he's plunked back behind bars for another five years.
It's so shortsighted, Colin thinks to himself. So unfair. Can't they see that he's changed? No, they can't. But they will! Colin was never a man to just let the world heap its trash on him. He'll show them how changed he is.
So he murders his trusting bus driver and a less-trusting prison guard. Just like that, he's a free man. Wanted, of course, but free. And he has some unfinished business to attend to now that he's on the outside.
As the name implies, No Good Deed (with its unfinished implication of "Goes Unpunished") is not a movie designed to give viewers an optimistic view of human nature. And, yes, the good deeds we see here are indeed often punished. But good deeds are nevertheless still done.
It's nice, for instance, that a lonely mother named Terri wants to help a wet, injured stranger call a tow truck. It's equally good that Terri's best friend, Meg, gets suspicious of said stranger and tries to do what she can to help her threatened BFF. And when a cop stumbles upon Terri and Colin, he tries to help too.
Terri clearly loves her two young children, putting her own life in jeopardy to safeguard theirs.
When Colin was before his parole board, one of the members said that, for a guy like him, "everything is a seduction." And, indeed, Colin does seem to make some moves on Terri to get into her good graces. He touches her face and removes a wayward hair. He smiles at her sweetly and flexes his muscles.
But they're not. Terri, if she's at all attracted to the handsome stranger, has no intention of acting on those feelings. And soon Colin's methods become more aggressive. He forces her to share a shower with him. (We see his naked torso from the waist up; she's still clothed.) And he makes her change her clothes in front of him too. (He sees her topless; she thinks for a little while that he's going to rape her.) Hidden by darkness, Colin drops his towel and puts on a pair of pants. Terri's thin undershirt clearly shows that she's not wearing a bra.
There's a fair bit of talk about sexual cheating, some of it done in angry, confrontational ways. Meg, who wears midriff-baring exercise clothes and curve-hugging getups, overtly flirts with Colin. She says that sex is like exercise: It should be done every day, using different equipment.
Several folks die: One is choked, then pounded in the face with a lamp; another is smashed in the face with a shovel. The blows typically land out of sight, but the movie's not as shy about showing the bloody aftermath. In flashback, we see a murder from both the victim's and the killer's point of view, the blows and faces blurred. Characters are shot, sometimes several times, generating bloody spatters and stains.
People are punched, thrown into furniture and hit in the head with fire extinguishers, heavy candle platforms and other household "weapons." Someone's stabbed a couple of times with a couple of different blades, then later falls out of a second-story window. Colin runs a car into a tree, smashing the windshield with his head.
Though we don't hear too many details about the women Colin presumably killed, we are told that the murders were among the most brutal in Tennessee history.
Crude or Profane Language
Two f-words and around 10 s-words. Other curses include "a--" (said once) and "h---" (twice). God's name is misused a half-dozen times, three times with "d--n."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Colin rolls and smokes his own cigarettes, giving one to Meg to puff on. Meg decides that, when Terri's husband is away, they're going to have a girls' night in, complete with a bottle of wine. "Gonna get drunk!" Terri says in anticipation. And, indeed, Meg does bring over the wine.
Other Negative Elements
Does every movie deserve a second chance? I don't think so.
Take this one, for example. While it stars two of my favorite actors, Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba, it gives them little to work with. It's really nothing more than a lame, sadistically minded thriller that relies on its overbearing musical score to tell you when to jump.
Its moral message? Never, ever, ever let someone use your phone in a rainstorm. And the plot is simply a bad dude threatening to hurt and maybe even kill a woman and her cute-as-buttons kids.
The menace we see here, and the violence that targets women is disturbing. They fight back of course—especially Terri—but in the end it's Colin's unrelenting assault on her that makes this no good entertainment.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Idris Elba as Colin Evans; Taraji P. Henson as Terri; Leslie Bibb as Meg; Kate del Castillo as Alexis
Sam Miller ( )
September 12, 2014
January 6, 2015